New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday gave his assent to the ordinance on sexual harassment that had been approved by the Cabinet on Friday. The President signed it and it will now be tabled before Parliament for approval. The Parliament has to clear it before six months for the ordinance to become a law. The government has assured that more changes will be made to the ordinance once it is referred to Parliament.
Several women's groups and Opposition parties on Saturday had appealed to the President to not sign the ordinance claiming that it was "incomplete". They questioned the silence of the ordinance on crimes such as marital rape and controversial provisions such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.
The activists alleged that the ordinance ignored some path-breaking suggestions made by the Justice JS Verma Committee. The government though claimed it had accepted most of the recommendations.
Law Minister Ashwani Kumar said that the "historic ordinance" will be thoroughly discussed in the Budget Session of Parliament. "I hope that we will be able to give the nation a progressive and necessary law," he added.
Kumar also said the ordinance will instill security in women and children. "It would help in stringently dealing with those responsible for crime against women. This is also a major step in empowering women of the country," he said.
"UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stood by what they had committed, to provide capital punishment to rapists, and within a week after Justice Verma panel report was submitted, the Cabinet passed the ordinance and I am proud that this bill will be passed during my tenure as Law minister," said Kumar.
With additional information from PTI